Sunday, August 19, 2007

Appeal to Assembly over big cat hotel

THE debate on whether big cats stroll the Welsh hills may still be ongoing.

But now an animal lover from the Swansea Valley wants to open his “hotel for cats” to leopards.

Gareth Williams, who runs the Abertawe Country Hotel for Cats in Glais in the Lower Swansea Valley, has applied for permission to breed Persian leopards in a special secure enclosure there.

Swansea Council has turned down his application for an operating licence under the 1976 Dangerous and Wild Animals Act.

Mr Williams, involved as a volunteer helper in an international big cats conservation scheme run by the European Endangered Species Project, has appealed to the Welsh Assembly Government.

Speaking at his cattery in Ynysmond Road, Glais, he said, “I hope to know within the next two months. It has stirred up quite a bit of interest but the project is vitally important for the future of Persian leopards which are an endangered species.

“I cannot say too much at this stage, however, out of respect for the planning process and those tasked with making a final decision on this.”

Swansea Council received a 338-name petition in support for the project and a 137-name petition against.

Mr Williams hopes to keep two Persian leopards at the Abertawe Country Hotel for Cats, with the aim of breeding them and then eventually releasing the animals in their natural habitats.

The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) is currently endangered throughout its distribution area in the Middle East.

The principal factors jeopardising the long-term survival of the Persian leopard are disturbance by building and commercial activities, poaching, and wildfires.

It can grow to up to 1.5 to 2.7ft tall at the shoulder, and weigh as much as 155 lbs.

The Persian leopard’s diet varies from small mammals and birds, to larger animals such as deer, antelope and occasionally wild boar.

The animal silently stalks its prey then strikes without warning, ending with a bite to the throat.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mum’s saintly mission

A MISSIONARY-TURNED-MUM with an international family may not be the first person you expect to write about Saint Tydfil.

But Coral Smith of Park Crescent, Twynyrodyn is doing just that, penning a historical novel called Giant Steps that traces the history of Merthyr Tydfil’s patron saint.

Depicting St Tydfil’s life through the journey of a giant across the country, Coral’s tale takes some large steps of its own.

Coral traces the possible lineage of St Tydfil, a woman whom very little is known about, to the landing of Joseph of Arimathea in Britain and their settlement at Glastonbury.

Along the way, the novel draws upon legends including King Arthur to illustrate its case.

Coral is keen to stress her book is not a theory set in stone, instead hoping to promote debate.

“Ideas shouldn’t be too fixed, we have to look at everything,” said the 50-year-old .

“Exploration always happens when things are put in an exciting enough way.”

Her first book, Little Miss Tearful, also explored the history of Merthyr Tydfil, examining its construction through the eyes of an angel.

Coral ultimately hopes books such as Giant Strides will be the tip of a historical iceberg.

“People perhaps need to be more proud of Merthyr,” said the mother-of-seven, “if people started to create more, then the history of Merthyr could become something to explore and be proud of.”

Having adopted her children on her missionary travels from places such as Zambia and Mauritius, Coral is very aware of having to juggle the responsibilities of parenthood and work.

When asked how her children feel having an author for a mother, Coral said: “The little ones are still quite excited by it.

“I try to sneak time in when they are in bed, but they understand that sometimes mum has to write her book.”

Thursday, August 2, 2007

UFO sightings revealed for North Wales - Daily Post North Wales

UFO sightings revealed for North Wales - Daily Post North Wales

A SECRET “X-files” style dossier of UFO sightings in North Wales has been made public for the first time.

Details revealed under the Freedom of Information Act show 33 sightings have been reported in the area over the past decade.

They range from bright lights to dome-shaped objects, according to Ministry of Defence log-books which list times, dates, places and descriptions.

And on February 7 2001, two separate sightings were recorded in different parts of North Wales on the same day.

At 7.40pm in Caernarfon a witness reported seeing a star, with green and red on the side, that looked as though it was going to crash into their house.

Five minutes later in Amlwch, Anglesey, someone claimed to have seen an object with a blue glow that turned green, broke up and left smoke.

Other reports include a golden sphere “bigger than a planet” and a “white onion shaped object, glowing white with yellow sparks”.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ghostly presence lurks in Vaults - Daily Post North Wales

Ghostly presence lurks in Vaults - Daily Post North Wales: "
Jul 31 2007 By Ian Parri

STANDING within a catapult’s throw of some of Europe’s most impressive medieval fortifications, it’s little wonder the Albion Vaults is said to have a ghostly presence.

Previous landlords recall hearing parties in the early hours, only to find the bar eerily deserted on venturing downstairs to check on the commotion. Others have found old pennies left on the bar for milk stouts long since consumed.

The Albion is one of those rare commodities, a pub left virtually untouched down the decades and full of original features. It feels like one would expect a pub to feel, cloaked in a comforting dimness that’s easy on the eyes without descending into dinginess. I easily imagine working off a morning-after hangover within its comforting walls."